A treatment in orthodontics encompasses any treatment designed to move and straighten teeth. This may include the alignment of the jaws, and can be carried out with traditional fixed braces or clear aligner therapy.
Historically, mainly children and adolescents underwent orthodontic treatment, and it is a common misconception that only children and adolescents can benefit from orthodontic treatment. Whilst certain growth spurts can aid orthodontic treatment, teeth move under the same biologic principals at any age.
Light forces placed around the teeth cause the surrounding jawbone to remodel, allowing teeth to rotate upright and travel through the jawbone in order to straighten. Traditional braces work with the placement of either metal or ceramic brackets, which are bonded to the teeth. Wires are placed through the brackets, which in turn distribute light force to unravel crowded teeth, or close unwanted spaces. Clear aligners work in a similar fashion, placing pressure on the teeth in specific directions in order to straighten teeth and improve your smile.
Relapse is a term used in orthodontics to describe teeth that have reverted back to their pre-treatment position, if retainers have not been placed or worn properly. The extent of relapse depends on many things, such as how much the teeth were moved, how much time has passed, and how long retainers were worn for.
Everything else in your body changes with time if you don’t try to keep it the same – teeth are no different.
At Bellevue Hill dental, we ensure that correct retention is maintained post-orthodontic treatment, to keep your smile as good as the day your orthodontic treatment was completed. Of course, if you have experienced relapse after previously having orthodontic treatment, we offer treatments to correct relapse and place your teeth back in their ideal position.
Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is a chronic condition that affects the health of the gums and jawbones. It is caused by plaque, a thick film of bacteria that builds up on the teeth each day. Apart from plaque, there is a genetic component to periodontal disease that means a certain percentage of the population is more susceptible to the effects of plaque on teeth and gums. Bleeding, pain, tingling sensations or bad breath can all be signs of inflammation and infection of the gums. Unfortunately, gum disease is nearly always completely painless until quite advanced. This is one of the reasons why joining a maintenance program is very important in understanding whether you are at risk of gum disease and what you can do about it.
Early gum disease
As you eat, there are bacteria in your mouth that accumulate and form plaque and calculus (tartar). This can damage your gums and cause gingivitis, which is limited to only damage of the gums, not the jawbones. Gingivitis can be treated successfully with regular maintenance, ie. removing plaque and calculus with a professional hygiene therapy. Home care is also vital to maintaining the health of your gums.
Advanced gum disease
This is true periodontitis – where inflammation has affected both the gums and jaw bones that support the teeth. Periodontitis can cause severe damage to teeth and gums, with recession of the jaw bones, loosening of the teeth, infection, and pain all possible if left unmanaged.
Do I have any signs of periodontal disease?
- Gums that are red, swollen, or tender
- Bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Abscesses between teeth and gums
- Loose teeth, drifting teeth or gaps developing between teeth
What can I do about it?
Seeing your dentist for a proper diagnosis is the first step. X-rays help your dentist to see the bones and jaws underlying the teeth and to assess any changes that are present in your mouth. From here, measurements can be made of your gums to determine your risk of gum disease, and whether it is early or advanced. Treatment will be tailored according to your specific needs and motivation.
Jaw Joint Disorders
The jaw joint is also known as the ‘temperomandibular joint’, or ‘TMJ’. The temporal bone and the mandibular bone articulate together to form the jaw joint, which allows us to open, close and perform eating and speaking movements. Like any other joint in the body, this joint can experience disorders that can cause pain and changes in function.
TMJ problems can occur at any age, but more commonly appear in adulthood. Jaw joint disorders can be caused by many different things:
- Grinding or clenching teeth
- Missing teeth, particularly back teeth
- Stress, either emotional or physical
- Injury to the jaw joint from trauma that can cause the joint to fracture or dislocate
- Arthritic conditions – both osteo or rheumatoid arthritis
- Wrongly shaped fillings or crowns
You may be experiencing symptoms of jaw joint disorder if you have:
- Pain when chewing or yawning
- Pain around your ears or cheeks
- Limited movement or ‘locked jaw’
- Earaches or loss of hearing
- Facial, neck or shoulder pain
What can I do about TMJ problems?
On many occasions, TMJ problems are temporary and therefore conservative treatment is recommended. Sometimes it can take time to see improvements in the symptoms of jaw joint disorder, as it usually takes time for them to build. Your dentist may suggest:
- Splint therapy – this is like a mouthguard that is customised to fit over your teeth and relieve the pressure from the joints and teeth
- A modified diet – to minimise chewing forces and allow the jaw to rest
- Relaxation – as stress can be a contributing factor to jaw joint disorders, so managing stress can play a big part in helping to alleviate symptoms
- Physiotherapy – just like other joint problems, there are exercises and stretches that can be effective in reducing pain and increasing mobility
For many years, a good night’s sleep was considered only a luxury enjoyed by a lucky few. Now, with more scientific research indicating the health benefits of good sleep and the dangers of bad sleep, health practitioners are focusing on how to achieve sound rest.
Snoring, waking up tired, chronic irritability, and general fatigue are all signs that your quality of sleep may be affecting your daily life. These symptoms could be indicative of a more serious underlying condition. Sleep Apnea and Obstructive Sleep Apnea are the terms used to describe ‘sleep disordered breathing’ – ie. You may be stopping breathing during your sleep. In severe cases, this can happen hundreds of times a night and last between 10 and 60 seconds. You can only imagine the effect that this lack of oxygen can have on your quality of sleep, and your health.
Your dentist can help discuss your symptoms, or may ask questions during examination according to signs that we see in your mouth. Your teeth may break or chip without reason, you may have jaw joint pain or stiffness, or you may wake up with muscular pain in your face, jaw, neck or shoulders.